Work on the new garden is progressing well. Most of the site has been cleared and today I planned the new bed layout. More details here.
“Even as the United States government continues to push for the use of more chemically-intensive and corporate-dominated farming methods such as GMOs and monoculture-based crops, the United Nations is once against sounding the alarm about the urgent need to return to (and develop) a more sustainable, natural and organic system.
(The Huffington Post)
That was the key point of a new publication from the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) titled “Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late”,” which included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world.”
It has been a long time coming but now the UN are saying that organic growing is the ONLY way forward. Commercial growing in the UK is dominated and controlled by the agrochemical industry. it is not sustainable and threatens food security. We simply cannot continue to rely on farming methods that are dependent on large chemical inputs.
The biggest asset we have is soil yet 50+ years on chemical fertilizers has left a depleted soil virtually devoid of organic matter so prone to erosion. See this 2006 report on UK soil erosion.
An alternative food supply
In a time of climate emergency, we need to be aware of the perilous state of our food supply. Supermarkets work on the “just in time” supply principle. They usually have 2-3 days of stock in the local supply chain. We import around 30% of our food from the rest of Europe. Any disruption to that through weather or politics will see the shelves empty within 24 hours as people panic.
We desperately need to separate ourselves from the supermarket food supply chain and grow food in any available space. It can be done, 25 years of organic growing often in very small spaces has proven that to me. We just need to get on and do it!
At last there seems to be a shift away from agrochemical farming. I discovered organic growing almost 30 years ago whilst recovering from a life threatening and life changing illness. I am sure that helped my recovery.
Switching away from oil based pesticides and the huge amounts of gas need to produce artificial fertilisers will help to combat climate change.
An article in The Guardian says that buying organic food is a way to save the insect population. I am so pleased to see that in print but excuse me, organic growers have known that the many years. In the past the press has ridiculed the ‘all muck and magic’ brigade and depicted us as happy idiots who do not know the benefit of modern insecticides. Now we are on the brink of a precipice it seems organic growing really does have something to offer.
The first thing to do is ban TV advertising of pesticides and herbicides. Then start a programme to turn the whole country over to organic growing. It will not be easy as the soil on agrochemical farms is in very poor condition, but it can be done.
Is that hoots of laugher I hear in the background? Are farmers and growers shouting we will all starve? Well think on mate, without insects to do the vital pollination of plants we will starve. So, you choose, change the way we grow food to more sustainable, environmentally friendly methods or stick with the conventional chemical soaked stuff that feeds the profits of the agrochemical companies. I know what I would do!
There was an alarming article in The Guardian yesterday, scientists are saying that the rapid decline in insect numbers is a catastrophe and evidence that the sixth mass extinction has started.
Since the late 1940s agriculture has become dependent on the use of artificial pesticides and fertilizers. The widespread use of various ‘sprays’ to keep crops ‘clean’ is seen as the only alternative to starvation. The agrochemical industry has become a big business dominated by very few companies. In short there are huge amounts of profit in killing anything that crawls or flies near a crop.
There has also been a corresponding increase in the use of pesticides in domestic gardens. That can be even worse for insect life as the density and variety of flowering plants is much higher. Anything that crawls or grows in the wrong place is zapped with adverts on TV telling us how to keep our gardens ‘beautiful’.
But insects are far more than an inconvenient pest. Without them we are in big trouble as they are major pollinators of flowers that become our food. Insects are part of the food chain that sustains us, without them we starve.
What can we do? First stop using pesticides in your garden. Second, lobby governments, farming organisation and growers to stop using pesticides. Most of all buy only organic food! If you grow your own, then switch to organic growing methods.
“Mega-sized farming encourages practices that degrade the soil, waste fertilizer and mishandle manure, all of which directly increase emissions of greenhouse gases. At the same time, it discourages practices like “no-till” farming and crop rotation that grab carbon dioxide from the air, store it in the soil and improve soil health.”
It is about time more people realised that food does not appear on our plates by magic. There has been little mention that 30% of UK food comes from the EU, 2.5 millions lorries a year bringing 5m tonnes.
Add to that the effect climate change is already having on food security and then factor in the amount of agricultural land lost to house building and vanity projects like HS2 and it is plain to see that politics is involved.
The truth is we need to prioritise the growing of food and go back to something like a war time attitude where every last square metre of land is cultivated.
The Food Programme – “What does a no-deal Brexit mean for our food?”
It never ceases to amaze me what researchers find in healthy soils. Now it seems there is a natural antidepressant. It is over 30 years since I discovered organic gardening and each day makes me more convinced that it is the ONLY way to grow food.
A report on a respected science web site, Phys.Org, says that there is evidence of pesticides in European soils. That is not really a surprise but still worrying. The other part of that will be low organic matter in soil making it more prone to erosion.
Soil should be seen as a vital resource for growing food and not as a sterile medium for industrial agriculture. After 70 years of intensive farming soils are in a worse state and still deteriorating.
The only answer is the wide scale adoption of organic farming methods which cultivate healthy soils producing nutritious food. A good example of what can be done is Riverford Organic.
Or, you can start growing your own organic food!
Growing you own food means you cease to be a consumer and are not part of the long supply chain dominated by large agrochemical companies and supermarkets. It also helps to ensure your food supply, saves you money and reduces waste. You do not need to think of total self-sufficiency, just a small food garden will help.
There are many reasons for growing your own including having fresh food on the doorstep. You will also drastically reduce the plastic waste from food packaging and reduce your food miles.
If you are new to food gardening, there is help here and you can ask questions if you get stuck. There are also lots of books around, more on that later.
Use raised beds just a square metre if you do not have much space. See this page to see how easy it can be. You can get around 9kg of food from each square metre bed with very little effort. We are planning a new square metre bed garden and will keep you updated step-by-step.
Remember, keep it organic – no artificial pesticides and no chemical fertilisers. That way you will have a healthy and productive garden that does not rely on the chemical industry and one that will be better for your health.